While I absolutely enjoy my adult fiction and nonfiction as an adult reader, my teen audience is what I think about most when reading. And after enjoying the Memorial Day holiday with plenty of books and outdoor reading (an indoor reading due to the rain), I find myself appreciative of publishers who adapt adult novels for teen audiences who will eventually grow into readers of the adult novels too.
Though, I daresay that these young reader adaptations are done so phenomenally well that a reader may never need to read the adult version. This is true of Malala Yousafzai’s story, The Boys in the Boat, and Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. I’ll add one more to the list: To the Moon!: The True Story of the American Heroes on the Apollo 8 Spaceship by Jeffrey Kluger and Ruby Shamir whose adult novel by Jeffrey Kluger is Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon.
Favorite characters: Of course, they need to be the real-life astronauts who took the mission when preparing for a later mission that left them in space during Christmas 1968. Each astronaut: Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman all shined with their personalities through Kluger’s adept writing and research with a particularly telling scene at the end when Kluger describes an epilogue of sorts after Apollo 8 and what the men went on to do: Borman smacked the pod they had just returned to Earth in and walked away, never looking back while the two other men went on to continue in the space program.
Favorite scenes: Each scene where Kluger skillfully describes the mission control station or training facility. I was particularly struck when he explains how you can tell the success of the mission based on the smell, look, and temperature of the food sitting alongside the NASA employees during the missions. In contrast or relationship to their faces and conversation when things go right and when things go wrong. It is thrilling to feel like a reader is working on the mission too.
quote image: I had to look it up because I knew that it wasn’t the “blue marble” image, but when Kluger explains Anders’ shot of Earthrise, I had to bring up the image to get the full scale of some of the captivating images that they would have seen and excitingly, captured for us earthlings to see. It demonstrates the importance of not only space travel but the undying power of an image to put us in our place– in history, geographically, emotionally.
So while I can’t put my finger on one thing that made this story great, it was a confluence of all of the pieces of great storytelling. Narrative nonfiction chronicling the space race, astronauts and the sacrifices they and their families make, the inherent danger, the dreams we all have to be bigger than ourselves, but told in a way that the everyday person can understand it and be along for the ride. Who wouldn’t want (as Marilyn Lovell knows) to be gifted with a Christmas Day present from “the man in the moon”?
And in closing, back to my appreciation for young readers editions, here are a few others I’d like to see adapted for a younger audience: Jane Goodall’s In the Shadow of Man, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, Bill Schutt’s Cannibalism, and Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus.